Marketing Strategy Manager – Kindred Group
The next two years will see marketing conditions get increasingly challenging through continued regulatory scrutiny, hardening public sentiment and a clamp-down on bonuses. Whilst the “death of bonuses” debate has been going on for a while, regulators in Sweden, Belgium and Denmark are actively restricting them this year, and other markets will likely follow suit. This will hit small operators hard but could also quicken the current move to better use of data, greater creativity and increasing product differentiation.
Mecca’s launch of a “fairer” game format in 2018 resonated in a low RTP product like bingo and other operators will likely follow suit with new formats and functions that aim to increase stickiness and the sense of winning. New software by Pragmatic Play, Yggdrasil and Lindar show that the industry still has plenty of growth, but increasingly operators will be looking outside of the UK. The US, Nordics and outliers like Brazil will be interesting to watch as bingo operators compete to gain market share in faster growing regions.
2018 in the UK saw a Minister resign over delayed gambling legislation, the head of the NHS slam the industry and the Gambling Commission hand out hefty fines for KYC and RG failings. At last year’s Bingo & Slots Summit there was a generally agreed prediction that we would see a well-known UK operator lose their license. While this hasn’t come to fruition (at the time of writing), a similar prediction would probably be fair for 2019. Customers, the press, investors and regulators are going to continue to demand better player protection and bingo operators that fail to invest in this are going to have a difficult time in 2019/20.
Managing Director – Positively Distinctive Media Ltd
Brand owners and operators will be focusing (or should be) on three areas in 2019:
First, they’ll be looking for ways to reduce their tax liabilities following the 40% POCT increase due in October. Those who fail to take their learnings from POCT2 will suffer, leading to M&A opportunities. I believe this will pave the way for game, product and player experience innovation as operators look to restrict or eliminate bonus funds altogether.
Second, the above will lead to a significant focus on player retention and re-engagement. In my 10 years in the iGaming space, I don’t think there’s ever been a more important time to ensure you are efficiently extracting maximum value from your player base. Compliance, regulation and tax burdens will force people to think differently on how they engage with their customers and will pave the way for those who are dynamic and agile enough to provide new ways to attract, engage and reactivate players.
Finally, I believe we will see a resurgence of bingo from those in the casino/slots space, as we witnessed towards the end of 2018. The introduction of maximum FOBT stakes and increased pressure on operators to comply with source of funds regulations means relying on high cost, high value casino/slot players is a risk. Plus, what else will come our way? We’ve already seen Belgium apply a maximum deposit limit; is this the start of the future? Those who understand the full extent of value in bingo will be in a strong position to capitalize on the ever-changing iGaming landscape.
Managing Director – 15 Marketing Ltd
TLDR: Nothing much will happen as operators keep pace with regulation.
As the tax rate jumps to 21%, belt tightening will be a common theme across all departments; marketing budgets will reduce and bonusing will be stricter.
Gamification and real time rewards will continue to be a priority for retention departments who are tasked with extracting more player value and longevity, without blindly bonusing the masses. Focus will shift away from VIPs as responsible gaming, AML and source of funds checks tighten.
Despite the raft of fines and actions issued in 2018, compliance and regulation haven’t peaked and will remain hot topics throughout 2019. In a world of unlimited resource, these topics go hand in hand with innovation and user experience. However, with rule-setters generally removed from commerciality and practicality, remaining compliant within a constantly evolving set of guidelines takes up a colossal number of work-hours, meaning that major innovation in the industry is probably unlikely in 2019.
Display, TV and print will continue to follow the format of radio adverts where half of all real estate is taken up by small print.
With 5G around the corner, perhaps we’ll see more immersive mobile content.
White labels will continue to launch in a prolific manner as the progressive marketing they employ allows them to flourish in a marketplace where the big guns are slow to move and perhaps distracted by the bright lights of the US and other jurisdictions.
Perhaps by the end of 2019, we will see an industry considered genuinely responsible.
CEO – River iGaming UK
The year 2018 will be remembered as the year when artificial intelligence (AI) hit the mainstream, in 2019 and beyond it’s going to be everywhere especially in gaming.
January last year was white hot for anything crypto but this year it seems to be slightly less popular as a topic (to say the least). A rise in the value of Bitcoin and other crypto tokens (which crashed in 2018 in spectacular fashion) would boost interest in this new tech once again.
The value of provably fair is something which crops up often in relation to blockchain powered gaming – an online game can be considered provably fair if there is a mechanism in place, which allows the players to confirm the fairness of the game process. In the original online gambling software, the entire gaming process takes place behind-the-scenes and often needs the verification of a third party such as PWC (an accounting firm) or test labs.
Reports throughout 2018 of many private and commercial or industrial blockchain initiatives failing to demonstrate much practical value has not helped expand the use of blockchain in gambling software.
BUT is blockchain gaming dead? I think not. The principle of a distributed ledger, secured by encryption, providing a record of transactional activity, holds a tremendous amount of potential value, especially for gaming propositions. In 2019 there will be more blockchain powered gaming offerings and it will be fun to see how much it can be used moving forward.